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Sanatan Shastar Vidiya: Ancient Indian Battlefield Art

Gurudev Nidar Singh

SSV stresses on deception so as to outwit the opponent for example the underlining philosophy of striking is that the attacks should not be seen but only felt(by the opponent)

Sanatan Shastar Vidiya(SSV) is the indigenous martial art practiced in India since time immemorial, besides incorporating various unarmed fighting techniques it involves the use of a plethora of weapons such as swords, clubs, sticks, spears, daggers, chain and ball, ‘Chakars’, ‘Bagh nakha (Leopard claw)’ and more. In the recent times the art has been best preserved by Nihang Sikhs whose warfare was based totally on this Vidiya.

Of late the system has witnessed a revival of sorts primarily through the efforts of Gurudev Nidar Singh who has been able to popularize it by establishing an Akhara in the UK and conducting seminars at various parts of the world. Gurudev Nidar Singh is the 9th Gurudev of the Baba Darbara Singh Shastar Vidiya Akhara. Darbara Singh ji was the student of Guru Teg Bahadur and had established the Akhara in the year 1661 in Punjab on the advice of the Guru himself.

Jatin Mogha is a Delhi based practitioner of the art, he has been practicing martial arts for over 15 years, gathering extensive experience in various disciplines such as Karate, Muay Thai, Boxing, MMA and Kalaripayattu, he explains why according to him Sanatan Shastar Vidiya is the most complete discipline “The way martial arts are taught I find that there is too much emphasis on physical fitness, stress on the actual fighting science is inadequate for example basics such as fighting weak angles, managing distance, psychology of fighting and so on are not covered as thoroughly as in SSV.Almost all other martial arts have been developed for dueling whereas SSV is capable for tackling single or multiple attackers, be it fighting on the feet or on the ground, there are no sort of strikes that have been left uncovered in this.

Also I find the footwork of SSV to be superior to other arts. Being battlefield art knowledge of battle formation, armory, are also covered, the system studies in detail tactics and strategies as well. The glorious martial history of ancient India, the Rajputs, Marathas and the Sikhs is testament to the effectiveness of the system.”

As SSV was used in the battlefield, where the soldiers would have to fight for long hours wearing heavy armor carrying heavy weapons SSV keeps the application of muscle to a bare minimum because muscle use would tire the soldiers very quickly. Instead it relies on body mechanics, gravity, compression and targets pressure points of the body while striking.

In SSV force is generated by a combination of mass, gravity and compression. Besides being highly efficient from the point of view of saving energy the art stresses on deception so as to outwit the opponent for example the underlining philosophy of striking is that the attacks should not be seen but only felt(by the opponent).

Jatin emphasis that developing the ability to relax is key to be a good fighter “A very important aspect of the Vidiya is learning to relax, Vidya has special techniques for relaxation which not only helps the person in learning but also makes sure that he stays relaxed when faced with a real life scenario.”

This ancient science is steeped in spirituality as it includes various Paitaras attributed to different Gods and Goddesses. The discipline also includes a special meditation for warriors as well.

Describing Sanatan Shastar Vidiya as a treasured National heritage Jatin hopes that more people would start practicing it “This is our indigenous martial art, and has a great tradition behind it. Apart from improving a person as a fighter this is a very spiritual martial art and practicing this is morally uplifting. The art includes a lot of the ancient wisdom of our land.”

Origins of SSV could be even more ancient than Kalaripayuttu (which is largely considered the oldest martial art in the world) mythology ascribes Lord Shiva as the originator of SSV whereas Sage Augastya(himself a devotee of Shiva) is attributed to be the originator of Kalaripayattu.

     

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